By Angie Georgeff
Every year the Association for Library Service to Children awards the Newbery Medal to the author of “the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.”
The ALSC also awards the Caldecott Medal to the artist of “the most distinguished American picture book for children.”
A small number of Honor Books may also be recognized for each of these prestigious awards. The 2019 winners of the Newbery and Caldecott Medals were announced on Monday, Jan. 28, along with two Newbery Honor Books and four Caldecott Honor Books.
The big announcement was made in Seattle at 11 a.m. EST. There was a lot going on that day, so it was nearly two hours before I learned which books had been honored.
We already had two of the Honor Books, so I ordered the remaining six for our children’s collection. By that time, four of the six were already out of stock.
The consolation is that when the new stock arrives, those items should sport a pretty gold or silver sticker that proclaims their exalted status. The two that were in stock have already been cataloged and processed.
The first is the Caldecott Honor Book “Alma and How She Got Her Name.” The book was written and illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal.
As one would expect, the illustrations are exceptional. Alma Sofia Esperanza Jose Pura Candela is a little girl with a big name. Whenever she writes it, she has to tape an extra piece of paper to the bottom of the page in order to fit it all in.
When she complains to her father, he shows her pictures and tells her about the relatives whose names she bears. Alma comes to realize that she has much in common with each of her numerous namesakes.
Daddy starts with Sofia and ends with Candela, leaving for last a very special reason why she was named Alma. After reading this book, I found myself wishing for more namesakes than the three foremothers I already have. I think a dozen might do.
The second is the Newbery Honor Book “The Night Diary,” written by Veera Hiranandani. When the British colony of India became an independent nation in 1947, the country was partitioned into India and Pakistan. Twelve-year-old Nisha, whose father is Hindu and whose late mother was Muslim, discovers that her family is on the wrong side of the border.
Their home in the city of Mirpur Khas will be in Pakistan. Since Hindus will no longer be safe there, they must leave and cross over the border into “the new India.” With her identity torn and her father, brother and grandmother preoccupied with the survival of the family, Nisha turns to her diary for consolation during that difficult and perilous journey.